Epistle of Netherlands Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, meeting from
May 12 -14 2023
Dear Friends Worldwide
We met again in the Natuurvriendenhuis “de Bosbeek” in Bennekom with 54 Friends,
including a number of children and guests from other Yearly Meetings (Belgium and
Luxembourg Yearly Meeting, Ireland Yearly Meeting and German Yearly Meeting).
It was the first time in four years that we were able to meet, now that the threat of corona is
It was nice to be able to sit again at the table with one another and share soup and sandwiches
with chocolate sprinkles.
What a wonderful privilege it was to be together in this wooded place with budding trees
and bird sounds. On our walks we enjoyed the warmth of the sun and the sparkling
sunlight and shadows on the leaves of the trees.
Our theme was “Ubuntu and Sustainability”, as a preparation for the theme of the
World Conference 2024 in South Africa.
During the Meeting for Worship for Business, we reflected upon our finances and the
question of whether we need professional assistance
to make our tasks easier.
We want to develop a vision in the near future about what to do with our real estate.
We have also reflected on how to simplify our organizational structure and we hope to
take steps towards this in the near future. We feel inspired by the experiences of Fri
in Switzerland and Belgium.
We watched a dialogue between Lynn Finnegan (Ireland YM) and Kees Nieuwerth.
The topic was: How do we relate to the threats of climate change and their impact
on creation. Lynn quoted Rumi: “There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth”.
This means that every person can contribute using their own talents. Lynn did research
on hope and despair within the environmental movement. Her last question to Kees
was where he gets his strength from and what he is grateful for. That is a question for all of
After this conversation Mieke van Opheusden presented her experiences with actions for the
preservation of creation. She emphasized the great importance of resistance. She participated
in an act of protest to stop a coal train by sitting on the rails, for which she was arrested. She
also told us about the actions at the brown coal mine in Lützerath, Germany.
It is like Mother Earth has been cut up with a big knife there.
Mieke shared her fear, anger and grief with us about how we as humanity are destroying
God’s creation. Grieving is an important process; if we don’t grieve we become passive and
depressive. This kind of mourning is too much for one person to bear, it needs a community.
She ended by naming her sources of strength, such as gratitude for what we still have, being
in nature and celebrating life.
She invited us to be still and ask ourselves, “What is required of me?”
The children really enjoyed being and playing in the woods. On Sunday, they practiced to
making fire without the use of matches and cooking soup on that fire made from plants found
in the forest. The activity was organized by Wietske, who was specially invited to work with
the children and offer them this experience.
We closed the weekend with our Meeting for Worship, which could also be attended
A song that inspired us and which we sang together was:
I’ve got peace like a river,
I’ve got peace like a river,
I ‘ve got peace like a river in my soul (2x)
I’ve got strength like a mountain,
I’ve got strength like a mountain,
I’ve got strength like a mountain in my soul (2x)
I’ve got love like a fountain,
I’ve got love like a fountain,
I’ve got love like a fountain in my soul (2x)
In Friendship
Peter Spreij
Netherlands Yearly Meeting, Clerk.